Big Easy Travelogue: Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House

This is located on the corner of Bourbon and Bienville. Yes, they serve absinthe here and that’s why you want to go. But if you do go, remember the following:

  1. This is not a dive bar, despite what it looks like. This is an absinthe house and, while you can order other drinks here, you come here to explore the characteristics of the Green Goddess. There is a bouncer out front and he is the watcher on the threshold. Notice, there are two doors: an entrance and an exit. When you pass the bouncer and enter, you enter through the entrance; you will exit via the other door when it is time to leave.
  2. Bring your patience, your attentiveness to detail, and your wallet. Go at night, not during the day; this is important.
  3. The service will be slow. Notice the walls are painted black and there’s a lot of sports memorabilia around the place. In the darkness, the black walls force the pupils to dilate more readily; the sports memorabilia is a psychological touchstone for people who enter and only have experience with sports bars back home in Oxford, Alabama.
  4. When you are served, if this is your first time, order the Toulouse Green. Don’t be swayed by Pernod; get the Toulouse Green. That’s the smart first-timer’s move.
  5. Pay attention to the show: the glass, the pour, the slotted spoon & blazing sugar cube, the second pour, dousing with water, crushing the sugar with the spoon, a swirl, and the drink is served. Think about the order of the elements presented.
  6. Sip your drink. The anise makes it taste like black licorice. This drink was popular back when black licorice wasn’t considered gross. Sip it and get it down. Drink it to the almost-caramelized cremains of the sugar cube.
  7. As you sip your drink, look about. Talk to your neighbors. See if you can see a ghost. If you don’t see any ghosts, imagine there are ghosts–who are the ghosts? What are they doing? Are they talking to each other? If so, what are they saying? I mean, really sip it. Be prepared to spend 10 minutes or more sipping your drink.
  8. It will take a while for the bartender to get to you. Relax. When they do come, pay your check, give a minimal $7.00 tip (on one glass of absinthe, yes), and leave through the exit.
  9. As you step out, admire the new brilliance to the signs along Bourbon Street.

Total Time: 30 minutes.

Shriek into the Void...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s